Continued from…Travel Photography Equipment Guide – Part 1
What if you are on a short term holiday with little or no hiking involved? In this case carrying a larger amount of equipment for shorter periods of time is more bearable, so you can afford to carry a little bit more gear. The trick is to get the nice balance between being efficient on your feet, and having everything you need at your disposal. There’s a few things that you can do in order to reduce some weight, but keep all your photographic essentials.
Short term holiday with no hiking
Camera body: Well, there’s no doubt about it – you’re going to need one of these 🙂 And if you have lots of room in your camera bag, why not a second. Though, your Canon 1DX is probably a little overkill, so probably best to leave this at home. Whether you decide to take one or two camera bodies, is up to you. I’d say either is fine. Though if you do decide to carry the extra weight and take a second, you have an advantage of having a second lens that’s already attached to a body and ready to go. This will lessen the amount of times you have to swap lenses and decrease the chance of getting dust on your sensor. There is also the added bonus of having a backup camera if one were to get broken, or (crossing fingers it doesn’t happen) stolen.
Lenses: You’ve got a nice comfy backpack that can hold your equipment, right? Pack in 4 lenses, this way you’ve got all the focal lengths covered. Starting with an ultra-wide of around 16-35mm (35mm sensor measurements), you’ll need this to fit in all those tall buildings and capture those breathtaking landscapes. It’s also great for adding depth in your photograph, but beware, without careful use of these lenses, photos can appear quite flat. Practice is the key here. A standard zoom of something around the 24-70mm range should be next, as these are great for street scenes and taking out on those days when you’re not 100% sure what will be around the next corner. Probably the safest option in such circumstances. Lastly, your telephoto which should be around the 70-200mm range. Great for wildlife photography, and capturing street scenes that you couldn’t get (or don’t feel comfortable getting) up close. But walking around the street, try not to appear as a weirdo, as some people don’t take to kindly to these large lenses.
Last but certainly not least, the prime! I’d suggest getting something in the range of 35mm to 85mm for street photography. Where you go in this range is up to you, depending whether you like slight wider angled natural looking shots, or ever so slightly zoomed. These prime lenses are the bomb for street photography, providing a nice low depth of field to really make your subject pop! But make sure your prime is a f/1.4 or f/1.8, a prime with an f-stop higher than that just won’t do.
Travel Tripod: Once again, do not take that tank of a tripod. While tripods are an absolutely a must, having one that can withstand heavy hits in the strongest of winds while holding your heavy telephoto lens, is something that’s only required in 1% of occasions. Pack that light weight travel tripod where it can either go in your bag, or attach to outside without being a burden to your back.
Camera Bag: Ok, for those of you who get separation anxiety when parted from your photography gear, feel free to take your full size camera bag on these shorter trips. It’s much easier to plan your time when you only have several days or so, and most of these still have a little pocket or two so you can still slip in a map, thin book and maybe even attach a jacket on elastic pull chords. This way you can have all your equipment at your disposal, take your extra lenses, and potentially even your second body if you choose to. But make sure it’s got a descent harness or shoulder strap, as you’ll still be spending many hours out on your feet.
Leave Your Laptop at Home: I would highly recommend that you take your smart phone or tablet in order to investigate photographic opportunities in your down time while you’re in the hotel room or at the bar at night, but don’t let it sacrifice your experience. One of my big recommendations is that you don’t take your laptop! You’re on holiday in a stunning place of the world – what are you doing sitting in front of your computer processing images? Get out, take photos, meet the locals, and experience what you came all this way for. You can do all your sorting and processing from your lounge room when you return.
Small Shoulder Bag: This is very handy for if you wanted to go for a walk and not take all of your equipment. Often it’s nice just to walk around with a nice prime lens for street some photography. The last thing you’ll want to be doing is carrying all of your gear – especially at night. So ensure you have something else that’s small and light weight that you can carry a body + lens in for such occasions.
Be aware though, the more difficult or burdensome it is to access your gear, the less likely you’ll be to get your camera out. So before you decide you want it all, really consider what’s truly important.
Of course, this is just a guideline as there is no absolute rule of what you should or should not take. So use my advice as a good starting point, and mold it to your own trip and style. If you’re going for a special purpose (like a safari for example), then your lens choice should obviously be different.